Category Archives: Sculpture

Kamakura sculpture found within later-era statue

The Yomiuri Shimbun
March 19, 2014


Rankei Doryu, anonymous artist of the late Kamakura or early Muromachi period,

KYOTO—A wooden sculpture portraying the head of Rankei Doryu (1213-1278) was recently found inside a seated statue of the same man. Rankei Doryu was a Buddhist priest who came to Japan from Southern Song dynasty China in 1246 and later became the chief priest of Kenninji temple, the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto.

It is considered very likely that the wooden head is the only remaining sculpture dating back to the Kamakura period (1192-1333). Sculptures of that period are believed to have been lost due to many fires, including those of the late 15th-century Onin War.

The wooden head sculpture of Rankei Doryu was discovered inside the larger statue, which was created in 1676 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of his death. Seiraiin temple, part of Kenninji temple in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, currently holds both the older sculpture and the larger statue, which measures 68.2 centimeters in height.

The Kenninji temple was founded in 1202 by Buddhist priest Yosai (1141-1215), who spread the teachings of the Rinzai school of Buddhism. Rankei Doryu became a chief priest at Kenninji temple after he founded the Kenchoji temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Ryusuke Asami, a researcher with the Tokyo National Museum, discovered the wooden sculpted head inside the larger statue.

Because the head has sunken cheeks, a sharp jawline and lips upturned at the corners, similar to features seen in the larger statue and in a portrait drawn during the priest’s life, Asami inferred that the wooden sculpture was the head of a sculpture of the priest created some time during the Kamakura period.


Photo essay: Buddhist Hell, Sri Lanka
27 Feb 2014

Buddhist Hell - Dikwella Temple, Sri Lanka

Like me, you may have assumed Buddhism was such a happy religion. Until I discovered Buddhist Hell, deep in the South of Sri Lanka, I figured that Buddhist temples were full of kind, enlightened, robe-wearing folks, living out their days in this world performing good deeds, and getting a stack of good karma to boot. From a Western perspective, brand-Buddhism is pacifism, tranquility, and paying a hundred bucks to see the Shaolin Monks world tour, and being ripped off by Buddhist monks selling plastic beads. But wait, there’s more.

Unfortunately, visiting Sri Lanka, one of the most stunning island nations on the entire planet, has taught me everything I never wanted to know about Buddhism. Like all religions, Buddhism has a special dark place where people just don’t want to end up in this life, or any other. Buddhists refer to it as “Naraka” or “Niraya”. You may know it as “hell”. One artists vision of this tormented and gruesome place is on display inside the Buddhist temple named Wewurukannala Viharain the town named Dikwella. And the Buddhist version of hell, makes your version of hell seem like not such a terrible place.

For more photos, follow the [link].

NYC Exhibit: Celestial Deities: Early Chinese Buddhist Sculpture Ca. 500-1100 CE


Chinese Standing Buddha, 550-577CE. Limestone Shandong Provence Northern Qi, 74 inches. Photo: Throckmorton Fine Art.

NEW YORK, NY.- To coincide with Asia Week in March, 2014,  Throckmorton Fine Art is presenting a special exhibition titled, “ Celestial Deities: Early Chinese Buddhist Sculpture CA 500 – 1100 CE”.  A detailed catalogue has been published to accompany this New York show which will remain on view through April 26th.

According to Spencer Throckmorton, “The thirty-one Early Buddhist Sculptures are rare survivors of Buddhist purges in the past; many were buried for centuries. They have been carefully cleaned, revealing their sublime beauty and refined elegance. Each piece has been carefully studied by Chinese scholars, with photographs and analyses included in an accompanying catalogue prepared under the guidance of Dr. Qing Chang and Dr. Elizabeth Childs-Johnson. Continue reading

Inspiring Buddhist saga of Andhra

Daily News
Rohan L Jayetilleke
30 Jan 2014

Recently a Cabinet meeting, chaired by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, approved a proposal submitted by Culture and Arts Minister T B Ekanayake to allocate a sum of Rs 7.9 million as Sri Lanka’s contribution for the project initiated by the Tourism, Media and Culture Ministry of the Andhra Pradesh State Government for the establishment of an International Cultural Centre in Andhra Pradesh, depicting historical events. These historical events had taken place in different countries. The masterpieces of religious arts and crafts are themed as ‘Parvatharama’ (Buddhavanam) in Andhra Pradesh.

This is an enormous task to consolidate the time-old Buddhist legacies of Asian countries and promote friendship and shared values.

Andhra Pradesh is situated on the northern frontier of Tamil Nadu. Andhra Pradesh is bisected now into the divisions based on language. The area on the northern slopes of Vidhya range of hill is inhabited by Muslims speaking Urdu Language and the southern slopes of the hills by Hindus speaking Telugu Language. In ancient times the entire area was known as Telangana, the country of Telugu-speaking people. Continue reading

Chinese carved coral Guan Yin sculpture sells for $66,550

Art Daily
09 Nov 2013

Chinese carved coral Guan Yin sculpture sells for $66,550 at Elite Decorative Arts Antique Qing Dynasty period Chinese hand-carved red coral sculpture depicting four Guan Yin ($66,550). 

BOYNTON BEACH, FLA.- A Chinese hand-carved red coral sculpture of four Guan Yin (Buddhist deities of mercy and compassion) from the Qing Dynasty, and a Chinese hand-carved red coral group figure depicting two Guan Yin with flowers throughout, each knocked down for $66,550 to share top lot honors at Elite Decorative Arts’ Nov. 2nd auction in Florida.

The sale – featuring 370 lots (300 of which met or exceeded their reserves) of Chinese works, fine decorative arts and fine artworks – was held in the firm’s Boynton Beach gallery, located at 1034 Gateway Boulevard. About 80 people attended the event live; another 650 bid online, via and Phone and absentee bids were also recorded.

More than 1,000 Internet bids were placed in an auction that attracted worldwide interest. People from as far away as Eastern Europe and Asia logged on to bid for items. All eight phone lines were kept busy as well. By the time the final hammer came down, the sale had grossed $735,000. “It was one of our better auctions, said Scott Cieckiewicz of Elite Decorative Arts.

The red coral sculpture grouping of the four Guan Yin stood just shy of 11 inches tall and was estimated to be from the Tongzhi reign (circa 1862-1874) of the Qing Dynasty. The lot included a certificate of antiquity from the Hong Kong Art Craft Merchants Association from 1985. It was appraised then for $50,000. Each figure was beautifully, meticulously hand-carved.

The same bidder who purchased that lot also bought the one immediately following it: a large (14 ½ inches tall) Chinese hand-carved red coral group depicting two maidens holding sheng and pipe instruments. A phoenix and crane can also be seen. A rock formed the base with high relief flowers. The piece sold for $41,140, so the two purchases combined topped $100,000.

The other Chinese carved red coral group that realized $66,550 was larger than either of the two just described (19 inches tall). A fitted wooden base was included in the total height. One other Chinese carved red coral group that did well was a finely carved sculpture depicting a standing Guan Yin holding a platter with flowers, 7 ½ inches tall, circa 19th century ($15,125).